Among “skeeter eaters” the bat reigns supreme

Dread Skeeter Mosquito Control

Dread Skeeter of Mosquito Squad

The bat is a familiar image used to evoke fear and creepiness throughout the year and especially during the Halloween holiday. The infamous vampire bat is used to emulate a shape shifting capability that the vampires of Hollywood have become famous for. But even though we think of the bat as an icon of  o-hallows-eve, the bat is as beneficial as it is spooky. Bats like many other birds, fish and mammals live primarily off  of a diet of insects, and among those insects on the bat’s menu is the mosquito.

This photo shows a bat catching an insect

This photo shows a bat catching an insect

Bats are broken down into two suborders, megabats  and microbats.  Megabats primarily feed off of fruit nectar and pollen while microbats feed on insects. Microbats  are considered to be a mosquito predator and can greatly reduce the number of mosquitoes that are likely to feed off of us as well as infect us with the diseases that they harbor. Bats come out to feed at dusk or right after dark and can eat a whopping 600 to 1,00 insects per hour. This is a substantial amount considering that the population of bats within a fusion can measure into the thousands. When you isolate a single bat eating mosquitoes it doesn’t paint the whole picture as accurately as taking the number of bats feeding off mosquitoes and other insects in one isolated area can.

The bat can eat between 600 and 1,000 bats in a single hour

The bat can eat between 600 and 1,000 bats in a single hour

Contrary to popular belief bats are not blind. Their eyes are quite small and underdeveloped, therefore the bat uses their heightened senses of hearing in order to locate and catch their prey. The bat uses a high-pitched sound that only other bats can hear and when the echoes from this sound hit an insect or another animal the echoes from their sound will bounce back off the prey and lead them to it. This incredible process is called echolocation.

Microbats begin hunting and feeding on their own at around 6-8 weeks of age, and a single microbat can live up to 20 years.  Research has indicated that if bats were to become extinct the insect population would explode at an alarming rate putting all of us at a greater risk for  insect-borne illnesses and diseases. A group of one thousand bats can eat up to  four tons of insects in a years time, this is proof positive that bats play a crucial role in keeping insect populations down and keeping us safer by doing so.

No Mosquitoes

No Mosquitoes

Next time you see a bat at dusk quickly darting through the twilight skies at breakneck speed, take into consideration just how much good that little creature is doing  for us by reigning supreme as a natural mosquito predator. As a society we should think of the bat as the crown prince of mosquito control instead of an icon of the prince of darkness.

We thought our barrier control mosquito and tick prevention was pretty good by lasting 2-3 weeks with one barrier spray to your yard. Well, outside of bats, barrier spraying your yard is the next best thing.

Visit our Mosquito Squad website to learn more about our safe and effective mosquito and tick control programs. Or, look at our location list for a mosquito and tick control location near you.

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  1. #1 by Jake on October 22, 2011 - 12:37 am

    This is embarrassing that a mosquito control company would post this long debunked myth. What’s are you going to tell us next; that bug zappers are effective mosquito control devices?

    From the dept. of Entomology at University of Wisconsin:

    Research conducted in the late 1950s showed that bats released in a room filled with mosquitoes could catch up to 10 mosquitoes per minute (Griffin et al. 1960). The results have been extrapolated to suggest that wild bats can consume 600 mosquitoes per hour. Using that figure, a colony of 500 bats might remove 250,000 mosquitoes each hour and theoretically afford mosquito control for an entire neighborhood. However, a bat’s behavior when locked in a room with nothing to feed upon but mosquitoes tells us nothing about behavior in the wild where the community of insects that can serve as food is much more varied.

    The diet of wild bats has been analyzed by dissecting stomach contents or examining fecal pellets. This research has shown that insectivorous bats are opportunistic feeders and that mosquitoes usually make up a very small percentage of their natural diet. For example, a look at fecal pellets for the little brown bat showed 71% small moths, 16.8% spiders and 1.8% mosquitoes (Whitaker and Lawhead, 1992) while the diet of the big brown bat was dominated by beetles and caddisflies (reviewed in Agosta 2002). Providing houses to enhance bat populations is an admirable activity for conservation purposes but it is not likely to help with a mosquito problem.

    • #2 by 33social on October 24, 2011 - 10:34 pm

      Hi Jake,
      Thank you so much for the information. We are posting it for our readers.

  2. #3 by Dale on January 21, 2013 - 10:14 pm

    I’d still be happy for 1.8% of 250,000 mosquitoes eaten by 500 bats from in and around my yard = 4,500 fewer mosquitoes to breed, feed on me (of course just the female ones) and annoy me.

    My understanding is that Mosquito Squad encourages Integrated Pest Management (IPM) which encourages a wide variety of mosquito control techniques including chemical, biological, physical, and cultural. While bats may not be the most efficient way, if you add it to Mosquito Squads effectiveness of 85%-90%, you have 86.8% to 91.8%.

    If you encourage other biological controls like:
    • Birds like: Common nighthawk, Cuckoos, Flycatchers, Gnatcatchers, Starlings,
    Vireos, Warblers, Whip-poor-wills, Chickadees, Catbirds, Mockingbirds, Meadowlarks,
    Orioles,Robins, Woodpeckers, and Wrens.
    • Reptiles/Amphibians like: Salamanders, Frogs, and Turtles,
    • Pond fish like: Mosquito Fish, Guppies, Bluegill
    • Insects and Arachnids like: Dragonflies, Damselflies, Praying Mantises, Diving beetles aka
    “water tigers”, Water Striders, and Spiders

    If you practice Physical Controls like:
    • Repair screens on porches, windows and doors.
    • Store tires in a dry environment so that they cannot collect water.
    • Address areas in trees that might collect water.
    • Maintain swimming pools, hot tubs and Jacuzzis.
    • Ensure that all rain gutters and downspouts are free of debris and don’t accumulate water.
    • Ensure that all potted plants are cleared of excess water every 48 hours.
    • Ensure that all tarps are tight and cannot collect water.
    • Remove excess lawn clippings, leaves, firewood and clippings
    • Ensure that all wading pools, toys, wagons, etc, don’t collect water
    • Ensure that bird baths have running water and/or a mosquito dunk or is changed often
    • Ensure that depressions in your property are leveled to reduce water collection.
    • Aerate ground and plant ground cover to facilitate water absorption.
    • Manage turf and ornamental trees and bushes to control mosquito habitat.
    • Change pet water every 48 hours or less.

    If you practice cultural control like:
    * wear protective clothing such as light colored, loose long-sleeved shirts and pants,
    * avoid floral deodorizers, hair products, perfumes and colognes that may attract mosquitoes,
    * avoid being outside during prime mosquito feeding times at dusk and dawn.

    And even if you do only some of these which may only reduces the number of mosquitoes by a small percent each. When you add them to Mosquito Squad’s control, you are looking at a nice day / evening in your outdoor living area!

  1. Happy Valentine’s Day from Dread Skeeter « Mosquito Control for your yard – safe for family and pets

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